CHATEAU DE JAU, FAMILLE DAURE, Rivesaltes
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- Corbières, Domaine Ollieux Romanis
- Minervois Rouge Vieilles Vignes, Pierre Cros
- Lo Vielh, Clos du Gravillas
- Carignano, Ampeleia, Costa Toscana
- DOMAINE LES TERRES DE FAGAYRA, Maury – Organic
- TERROIR: The Soil The Soul. Two Vignerons Explain…
CHATEAU DE JAU, FAMILLE DAURE, Rivesaltes
The Muscat de Rivesaltes is a grapey delight with extra concentration from skin contact and mutage sur marc. This should be
drunk very chilled, either as an aperitif, or with fruit or creamy desserts!
MUSCAT DE RIVESALTES – 50 cl
RIVESALTES AMBRE – 50cl
DOMAINE BRUNO DUCHENE, Collioure – Organic
Bruno Duchene, an energetic vigneron moved from the Loir-et-Cher to the Roussillon and is now based in Banyuls-sur-Mer.
His vines are on the steep hills overlooking the sea and worked by horse and human. He works biodynamically and the red
varieties are Grenache Noir and a little Carignan. La Luna is from several parcels of vines averaging 35-40 years old and
undergoes a semi-carbonic maceration. Pigeage and remontage is according to the nature of vintage. The wine is full-bodied
with warm strawberry and cherry cola aromas and confit fruits on the palate. The La Pascole (AOC Collioure) is from older
vines (80 years), is vinified in a similar fashion but spends seven months in used barriques. It has greater intensity, but is still
a thoroughly elegant and tonic wine.
Vall’Pompo is the lesser-seen Collioure Blanc, all poached pear ripeness on the surface with a slew of grapefruit undertow
from the Grenache Gris (old vines).
COLLIOURE BLANC “VALL POMPO”
COTE VERMEILLE “LA LUNA”
COTE VERMEILLE ROUGE « LA LUNA » - magnum
COLLIOURE “LA PASCOLE”
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regarding this grape. Previously dismissed as “a workhorse variety”; “not capable of greatness”; “should be grubbed up in favour of
Syrah”; “the bane of the European wine industry” and “only distinguished by its disadvantages”, it is now perceived as one of the
signature grapes of the Languedoc-Roussillon, lending terroir character to blends, or standing out in its own right by expressing uniquely
bold flavours. As Marjorie Gallet and Tom Lubbe illustrate magnificently it is not necessary to subject this grape to carbonic maceration
to smooth out the rough edges and highlight the fruit: the same effect can be achieved by naturally low yields, gentle extraction and
traditional vinification techniques. Carignan is a more efficient vehicle for terroir than Syrah and Grenache particularly on the poor
schistous soils (worked by maso-schistes) that characterise much of the Roussillon and eastern Languedoc. As Andrew Jefford writes in
The New France: “The greatest wines of the Languedoc never taste easy or comfortable; they taste as if handfuls of stones had been
stuffed in a liquidiser and ground down to a dark pulp with bitter cherries, dark plums, firm damsons and tight sloes.” Carbonic
maceration can, nevertheless, delightfully soothe the sauvage grain. Take Raymond Julien’s Clos de l’Azerolle. This is 100% Carignan,
high-toned, smooth, silky and linear with superb poise. The grape variety is in no way compromised by the vinification and reveals that
exhilarating freshness and fine structure are not mutually exclusive notions. Carignan really flourishes in Corbières, particularly in the
zone of Boutenac which is a chaotic mixture of sandstone, schist, limestone and marl. La Forge, a tiny parcel of 100-year-old vines owned
by Gérard Bertrand, is a notable amalgam of power and finesse, old-fashioned respect for terroir and grape allied to scientific know-how.
Carignan is also being heavily promoted in neighbouring Fitou (a geological scrapyard – Jefford) – once again old vines provide the
blood of the wine. Of course, Carignan is most often tasted in blends with Syrah, Grenache, Mourvèdre and Cinsault. Two viewpoints:
firstly, the desire to express local terroir by using traditionally cultivated varieties, and, secondly, the incorporation into appellation rules
of a higher proportion of “noble” varieties (in particular Syrah and Mourvèdre). The theological debate will run for centuries; what is not
in doubt is the resurrection, or rather the establishment of Carignan’s status as a grape capable of producing serious, challenging and
rather wonderful wines, a fact that mirrors the rise of the reputation of the Languedoc-Roussillon.
LES CAVES DE CARIGNAN – THE UNUSUAL SUSPECTS
Fitou, Domaine de Roudène – 50% Carignan (Grenache/Syrah). 50-100 year old vines, traditional vinification. Used oak
Corbières, Domaine Ollieux Romanis – 40-60% Carignan (depending on cuvée) 50-100 year old vines. 12-18 months in barrel
Minervois, Clos de l’Azerolle – 100% Carignan vines; 50 years old; carbonic maceration; stainless steel fermentation
Minervois Rouge Vieilles Vignes, Pierre Cros – 100% Carignan; 105 year old vines; carbonic maceration
Rendez-Vous La Lune, Clos du Gravillas – Carignan, Syrah, Cab Sauv; 90-year-old vines; stainless steel fermentation
Lo Vielh, Clos du Gravillas – 100% Carignan, 100 + year old vines, large oak barrels
Saint-Chinian, La Laouzil, Domaine Thierry Navarre – Old Carignan, Grenache, Syrah – 600 litre demi-muid
Faugères Tradition, Domaine Didier Barral – 60% Carignan; old vines; cement and old wood
Faugères, Domaine du Météore – 40+% Carignan (Syrah, Mourvèdre, Grenache); 40+ year-old vines; carbonic maceration; elevage
in old wood
Côtes du Roussillon Villages, Domaine Le Roc des Anges – 30% Carignan (Grenache/Syrah); 80+ year-old-vines; fermented in
concrete, aged in foudres
Matassa Rouge, Cotes Catalanes – 100% Carignan, 120 year old vines, naturally fermented in cement
Frida, Côtes du Roussillon, Domaine des Foulards Rouges – 50% Carignan, 50% Grenache – 80 year old vines, tank fermented
Carignano, Ampeleia, Costa Toscana – 100% Carignan - cement
Carignan Reserva, Villalobos – 100% Carignan, 70 year old vines, wild vines
Populis Carignane, Living Wines Collective – 100% Carignan, 70 year old vines, tank and barrel
Les Terres de Fagayra is exclusively dedicated to the making of fortified wines with personality. The estate lies on three
hectares of old vines located at the north border of the Maury appellation. In these wild lands nestled at the bottom of a
limestone cliff, rain is more frequent and temperature is lower; two climatic conditions that give elegant and balanced grapes.
Two soils are present: pure schist and schist with limestone sediments. Root systems are deep. The white Maury is a blend of
Grenache Gris and Maccabeu on pure schist and limestone. The wine is aged for seven months in vat and then for a further
four in bottle. The nose first reveals exotic and white fruit aromas followed by mineral notes upon further aeration. Serve with
The red is old vines Grenache Noir grown on schist with limestone sediments. After a wild yeast ferment the wine is aged in
stainless steel for seven months and a further four in bottle. A nose of dried red flowers and dried figs leads to an intense, full-
bodied palate with a delicate, chalky, mineral palate. Enjoy with most cheeses and chocolate.
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DOMAINE MAS AMIEL, OLIVIER DECELLE, Maury – Organic
Maury is surrounded by the Rivesaltes appellation. The mountains to the north denote the end of Corbières and of the Aude
department. Maury is thus in Pyrenees-Orientales and thus Catalan in nature. As Paul Strang vividly writes: “It lives in the
shadow of the Cathar stronghold of Quéribus, the massive profile of whose tower dominates the landscape for miles around. If
you come down from these heights the soil suddenly changes. Everywhere there is black schist, sometimes as dark as coal; the
vines brilliant green, their tufts flowing freely in the Tramontane wind, looks as if they have been planted in the ashes of the
Cathar martyrs who were burnt alive for their faith in the mountains of the South”.
The story of Mas Amiel begins in 1816 when Raymond Amiel won the deeds to the property from the Bishop of Perpignan in a
game of cards. If the game were poker this would be quite a story – if you believe it – but what makes this event all the more
remarkable is that the two were actually playing an early version of the classic card game ‘Old Maid’. If only fate had taken a
different turn that night, the bishop would have paired Monsieur & Madame Raisin the winemakers, Amiel would have been
left, red-faced, holding the Old Maid, and the property in question would have fallen to the church. But thankfully there was
no divine intervention on the night. The bishop left, fleeced of what could have been a prime source of communion wine, and
Mas Amiel was born. After a chequered career the estate was purchased by a Charles Dupuy who cultivated it until his death
in 1916. Charles’s son, Jean took over and started to produce high quality wine under the Mas Amiel label. He extended the
vineyard, digging up the hillside to plant new vines.
The Maury Blanc is from old Grenache Gris vines on schistous slopes. Yields are a miserly 15hl/ha, Vinification is at 18c
followed by a mutage to adjust the alcohol. The wine is then aged in tank on the fine lees. It has a beautiful limpid colour with
hints of green and a mineral stone evoking warm stones and orange blossom which develops further with aeration to unveil
fresh brioche and pollen. In the mouth it is lively, round and supple and unleashes panoply of flavours: boxwood, star fruit,
mandarin and juniper to name but few.
Thon mi cuit au sel de Guérande et fenouil, langouste tiède aux agrumes, soupe de
fruits blancs au gingembre
The Maury Rouge is made in the same style as the rimage wines of Banyuls. From 100% Grenache Noir grown on the south-
facing broken schists and marne soils and yields of 25 hl/ha, the grapes are subsequently sorted, destemmed and vinified in
the normal way. The alcohol is added while the wine is still in the vat (mutage sur les grains), which slows down the final
fermentation, allowing a longer period of maceration and thereby conferring greater richness. This Maury is ruby with violet
tints and the nose eloquently expresses framboise, cherry and crème-de-cassis. It is smooth in the mouth, the red fruits
reinforced by bitter chocolate and spice as well as fine tannins.
MAURY VINTAGE BLANC
MAURY VINTAGE ROUGE
Marjorie Gallet of Roc des Anges avec le pooch
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TERROIR: The Soil & The Soul. Two Vignerons Explain…
Or in the heart or in the head?
How begot, how nourished?
In a recent paper Randall Grahm wrote: “Terroir is a composite of many physical factors – soil structure and composition, topography,
exposition, micro-climate as well as more intangible cultural factors. Matt Kramer once very poetically defined terroir as “somewhere-
ness,” and this I think is the nub of the issue. I believe that “somewhereness” is absolutely linked to beauty and that beauty reposes in the
particulars; we love and admire individuals in a way that we can never love classes of people or things. Beauty must relate to some sort of
internal harmony; the harmony of a great terroir derives, I believe, from the exchange of information between the vine-plant and its
milieu over generations. The plant and the soil have learned to speak each other’s language, and that is why a particularly great terroir
wine seems to speak with so much elegance.”
Continues Grahm: “A great terroir is the one that will elevate a particular site above that of its neighbours. It will ripen its grapes more
completely more years out of ten than its neighbours; its wines will tend to be more balanced more of the time than its unfortunate
contiguous terroir. But most of all, it will have a calling card, a quality of expressiveness, of distinctiveness that will provoke a sense of
recognition in the consumer, whether or not the consumer has ever tasted the wine before.”
Expressiveness, distinctiveness: words that should be more compelling to wine lovers than opulent, rich or powerful. He is talking about
wines that are unique, wherein you can taste a different order of qualities, precisely because they encapsulate the multifarious differences
of their locations. Grahm, like so many French growers, posits that the subtle secrets of the soil are best unlocked through biodynamic
viticulture: “Biodynamics is perhaps the most straightforward path to the enhanced expression of terroir in one’s vineyard. Its express
purpose is to wake up the vines to the energetic forces of the universe, but its true purpose is to wake up the biodynamicist himself or
Olivier Pithon articulates a similar holistic credo. “I discovered… the sensitivity to how wines can become pleasure, balance and lightness.
The love of a job well done, the precision in the choice of interventions, the importance of tasting during the production of wines and the
respect for the prime material, are vital. It may sound silly, but it’s everything you didn’t learn at school that counts. We never learn that it’s
essential to make wines which you love. They never speak to you about poetry, love and pleasure. It seems natural to me to have a cow, a
mare and a dog for my personal equilibrium and just as naturally comes the profound desire and necessity to fly with my own wings or to
look after my own vines. Ever since then, I’ve had only one desire: to give everything to my vines so that then they give it back in their
grapes and in my wine. You must be proud and put your guts, your sweat, your love, your desires, your joy and your dreams into your wine.
Growing biologically was for me self evident, a mark of respect, a qualitative requirement and a choice of life style. It’s economically
irrational for a young enterprise like mine but I don’t know any other way to be than wholly generous and natural.
I don’t do anything extraordinary. I work. I put on the compost. I use sulphur against the vine mildew and an infusion of horse tail for the
little mildew that we have. This remains a base. As time goes by, through reading, exchanging ideas, wine tasting and other experiences, the
wish to take inspiration from the biodynamic comes naturally. Silica and horn dung (501 and 500) complete the infusions of horse tail, fern
and nettles which I use. My goal is to make the wine as good as possible by getting as much out of the soil as I can, whilst respecting our
environment and considering the problem of leaving to generations to come healthy soil: “We don’t inherit the land of our ancestors; we lend
it to our children”.”
Terroir – because one word is so freighted with meaning, because the critics perceive it as a “concept” appropriated by the French (the
word is French after all, and a reflexive mot-juste!) and given a quasi-mystical, pantheistic spin, people will argue in ever-decreasing
circles whether it is fact – or fiction. Who deniges of it? As Mrs Gamp might enquire. If you are a New World winemaker the word may
have negative connotations insofar as it may be used as an alibi (by the French mainly) covering for lack of fruit or bad winemaking
technique. The same people believe that terroir is solely associated with nostalgia for old-fashioned wines and a chronic resistance to new
ideas. This is a caricature of the idea (terroir is not an idea), as if the term was invented to endorse the singular superiority of European
growers. It is not old-fashioned to pursue distinctiveness by espousing minimal intervention in the vineyard and the winery, rather it
denotes intelligence that if you’ve been given beautiful, healthy grapes that you translate their potential into something fine and natural.
It is not old-fashioned to talk about spirit, soul, essence, harmony and individuality in wine even though these qualities cannot be
measured with callipers. The biodynamic movement in viticulture and the Slow Food philosophy are progressive in their outlook and
approach. Underpinning all their ideas are the notions of sustainability, ethical farming and achieving purity of flavour through fewer
interventions. And so we return to the matter of taste. We say, as an intellectual truth, that every country or region naturally has its own
terroir; however, not every vigneron has an intuitive understanding of it and, as a result of too many interventions – the better to create a
wine that conforms to international models – the wine itself becomes denatured, emasculated and obvious. Eben Sadie, a South African
vigneron, articulates his concern about interventionist winemaking: ‘I don’t like the term “winemaker” at all’, he explains. ‘Until recently
it didn’t exist: now we live in a world where we “make” wines’. Eben continues, ‘to be involved with a great wine is to remove yourself
from the process. In all the “making” the virtue of terroir is lost’. The final word goes to Samuel Guibert: “Firstly, you should remember
that we do not make the wines. Nature makes the wines; in our case the Gassac (valley) makes the wines. And every year it is different.
We have to remember to be humble before Nature.” Terroir is about such respect for nature; you can obviously force the wine to obey a
taste profile by artificial means and it will taste artificial. The great growers want to be able to identify Matt Kramer’s “somewhereness”
in their wines, the specific somewhereness of the living vineyard. Yes, these wines have somewhat of the something from a particular
somewhere, or to put it more reductively, they taste differently real. And we love ‘em!
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“It is sad that few people understand naturally made individual wines. Technology has progressed to the point that far too
many wines lack the taste of the place of their origin and resemble one another. Terroir, more than anything, is an
expression of finesse and complexity.” - Gérard Chave
(as quoted in Robert Parker’s Wines of the Rhône Valley, 1998 edition)
Green Harvesting – Chuck Berries
The Rhône presents a bit of a problem at the moment. There
are some excellent wines at the cheaper end, but when you
move into the top villages, only relatively small quantities
from a handful of growers are available (such is the demand)
and even those wines tend to be too young to drink.
Nevertheless, we are able to offer a good selection of growers
on top of their form. At one end of the spectrum is Jacques
Mestre, whom we are determined to elevate to cult status – if
you wish to taste great mature winter-warming Châteauneuf
submit your taste buds to his vintages from the mid 1990s. In
terms of vintages it is often a boon to be behind the times!
Clos Saint-Michel meanwhile has furnished us with a white
and red Châteauneuf of supreme quality. Fierce power and
easy pleasure coexist harmoniously; warm waves of exotic
flavour lavish the taste buds. Domaine La Barroche,
meanwhile make opulent, spicy CNdP which has garnered
From old spices to baby spices. In the past couple of years Guy
de Mercurio and François Collard have surpassed themselves
at Château Saint-Cyrgues and Château Mourgues du Grès
respectively, so we strongly suggest you get your Rhône gear
from the Gard. For value for money the Gard est le lieu and
miles better than most of that attenuated slop that masquerades
under the Côtes-du-Rhône appellation. At the modern end of
the spectrum the lush, plummy Ventoux wines of Domaine de
minerality. This estate has taken the appellation to a new level.
Our quartet of southern Ardèchois producers: Vigneaux,
fruit and more fruit with earth and stone. Our L’Ard des Choix.
Of the various villages, Rasteau, just north of Gigondas, provides
us with a sumptuous Châteauneuf-manqué from Didier Charavin.
From Gigondas itself Clos du Joncuas is a wonderfully
unpretentious Grenache-based wine, its earthy purity a testament
to the benefits of no holds-barred organic viticulture. It’s not only
a wine with nowt taken out; you’d swear they’d put things back in.
Two contrasting wines from Vacqueyras: in the traditional corner
a warming gravy-browning brew from Domaine La Garrigue;
from Clos Montirius, a red berry Syrah-rich smoothie, given the
complete biodynamic makeover (the full Montirius).
As usual there will be local microclimatic triumphs and mini-
disasters – the diurnal rhythm of the vigneron. The 2010s, north
and south, look consistently strong, revealing good concentration
and structure. 09 – as elsewhere in France – was a hot vintage,
better for Grenache than Syrah normally.
As mentioned elsewhere we are particularly fond of the underrated
Grenache grape which seems to soak up the heat of the sun and
express the flavours of the soil to such good effect. Many
modernists wish to use new oak or a higher proportion of Syrah or
extract greater colour. This might smoothen some of the rough
edges, but would surely stifle the unique signature of these
wonderful southern Rhône red wines.
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